Panthers host Jonesboro Westside in final nonconference contest

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By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Panthers (0-2) will seek to build momentum going into the 2-4 Conference schedule by hosting Jonesboro Westside (1-1) in a nonconference football game at 7 p.m. tonight.

Heber Springs, which lost to Clinton and Southside Batesville during the past two weeks, looks for consistent play on both sides of the line of scrimmage going into the conference opener against Cave City, also at Panther Stadium, next Friday.

“It was not the outcome we wanted,” said Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said when asked about the team’s start. “One of the keys against Southside were the turnovers inside the redzone. If we could have avoided the turnovers, we could have trailed by a touchdown or maybe tied at halftime. Defensively, we couldn’t match Southside’s size and strength. We still can be a good team if we start clicking on both sides of the ball.”

The Panthers showed more life on offense at times against Southside, except for the turnovers. Quarterback Xander Lindley completed 20-of-28 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown. Dalton Yancey caught seven passes for 75 yards, while Easton Cusick had six catches for 53 yards. Parker Brown snagged grabbed four passes for 35 yards and one touchdown.
Heber Springs, which has rushed for 209 yards through two games, will look for increased production from the running game.

“It’s a of matter learning from our mistakes, highlighting the positives and getting better at what we do,” Wood said. “Westside’s line is more to our level, but a little bigger than us. It’s a better matchup. We are hoping to put everything together for Westside.”

Wood liked playing a new nonconference opponent, and he said that will test his team.

“It’s good to play new teams and look at someone different,” Wood said. “Xander played more comfortable against Southside than Clinton. He is getting an idea what he needs to do.”

Wood expects Westside, like Southside, to ground and pound, and he believes the HSHS defense will be up to the task in controlling the Warriors’ run game.

“Westside will use two and three running backs,” Wood said. “They have the line and the backs to play that type of offense.”

Wood expects his team’s best performance of the season during Friday’s game

“It’s our last chance to put everything together for conference play,” Wood said. “It’s always nice to play at home. It’s a different level and excitement. We had a good home crowd last week. The game will be more of a test what we will face during conference play.”

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